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Premier chooses Yap to lead B.C.'s immigration task force

Who better to head an immigration task force than the MLA for a city steeped in a tradition of welcoming new Canadians.

Who better to head an immigration task force than the MLA for a city steeped in a tradition of welcoming new Canadians.

Richmond-Steveston's John Yap was picked last week by Premier Christy Clark to lead a new task force to review the system under which skilled immigrants and foreign investors come to B.C. and Canada.

The nine-member group will consist of community and business leaders and will review the Provincial Nominee Program, the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Canadian Experience Class and the Federal Immigrant Investor Program.

The task force will assess the efficiency of each program, and look at how to improve the federal government's responsiveness to immigration needs throughout Western Canada, said the premier.

Speaking about why he thinks the premier selected him, Yap said the makeup of his constituency played a major role.

"I represent a region here in Richmond that's very impacted by immigration, there's a high proportion of new Canadians in my riding," he said.

"(Immigration) is a topic of great interest to me and we really are a nation of immigrants."

Yap said a huge number of jobs will need to be filled over the next decade in B.C. and a "huge percentage of this will need to be filled by new immigrants."

"I'm looking forward to working with some very distinguished British Columbians," added Yap.

"As a group, we're going to come up with suggestions and recommendations and then report them to the premier.

"This is about bringing more skilled people in from all around the world to B.C."

Yap will be joined on the task force by two more Richmondites: Tung Chan, former CEO SUCCESS/Chinese community leader, and Suki Badh, college instructor/South Asian community leader.

Clark said last week the province has laid out an ambitious plan to create jobs in the BC Jobs Plan and more skilled immigrants will be needed to "help fill more than one million job openings expected over the next decade," noting that current B.C. residents are expected to account for only two-thirds of those positions.

"We don't know yet how we're going to fill those jobs," she said.

The goal of the force is to assess the current system and find ways to attract more skilled workers yearly.

Task force members meet with employers, industry and sector associations, settlement service providers, community associations and other relevant groups, Clark said.